Archive for July, 2008

Toners: Why you should use them, or not?

I have discovered another skincare contradiction.

Toners. I have been using them. I generally use a toner to remove excess makeup, and to take away that “tight feeling” I sometimes get after cleansing.

And after reading several books about pH, residue, and the skin’s protective barrier, I felt it was imperative I use them. Then I got another perspective from a new book called, “The Surgery-Free Makeover,” by Brandith Irwin, MD who puts a novel spin on toners:

“Toners are generally useless in my book. Though they’re meant to remove “residues,” I don’t think it’s a problem if a few molecules of a gentle cleanser get left behind on your skin after washing! They also supposedly restore the pH balance of your skin (your pH comes from the natural oils and sweat on your skin). But if you’re using a gentle cleanser, it shouldn’t much change the pH balance of your skin, because it’s not removing your natural oil. What’s more, studies have shown that your skin will replenish its natural pH balance in fifteen to thirty minutes after you wash it. If you love toners, it’s fine to use them, but they’re not really necessary.”

Now that’s a different attitude from what a skincare line will tell you!

Recently in a newsletter from Renee Rouleau skincare, they listed the reasons why toners are important in your daily skincare regimen:

Make sure to use an alcohol-free toner. As long as it’s alcohol-free, toners will plump up and hydrate the skin with water. After cleansing, apply toner to Toning Cloth and wipe over the skin, making sure to leave it damp. Immediately follow with serum and/or moisturizer. By leaving it damp on the skin, your moisturizer will help to seal in all of the hydrating properties of the toner. *Remember: Skin cells are like fish. They need water to live. So toners are a perfect way to saturate your skin cells with nourishing moisture.

Many chemicals are put into tap water to destroy harmful bacteria. But, they can be very drying to the skin, so the use of toner after cleansing will remove impurities from the skin.

If you use a bar of soap or foaming face wash that might dry out the skin due to their low pH balance, a toner will help counteract the dryness that could occur.

Depending on the ingredients used in the toner, they can help calm, control oil, stimulate blood circulation, destroy acne-causing bacteria, provide anti-oxidant benefit and more.

By supplying the skin with essential hydration and nutrients, you repair the skin’s protective barrier making it less sensitive and resistant to environmental damage.

Renee Rouleau isn’t the only skincare line that purports that using toners are beneficial in your skincare regimen. In a recent article by the Beauty Brains, they discuss the use of toners, and quote the on the subject:

“Toning is often touted as an essential step in a skin care routine. It is not. At least not always. The only exception is very oily skin. If you have oily skin and after cleansing it remains sticky or oily, you might benefit from applying toner after cleansing. Otherwise toning may do more harm than good.

Most toners contain alcohol and/or witch hazel. Both are drying and irritating, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. If you still feel you need a toner, use a soothing toner free of alcohol or witch hazel, such as alcohol-free toner with chamomile.

You do not want to strip every last molecule of oil from your skin. Only grime, makeup and excess oil on the surface needs to be removed. The underlying thin coat of fresh sebum is best left undisturbed. Toners, especially alcohol-based ones, tend to strip everything off, leaving the skin dry and/or irritated.

Some experts argue that toners help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, thus reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. Whether this is true is debatable. Even assuming it is, most people finish their skin care routine by applying skin care products with active ingredients, in which case you actually want as much penetration as possible. Preceding an active treatment with a toner that closes pores and tightens cell gaps may be counterproductive. After the active product has absorbed into your skin, you can close pores simply by cooling your face. The cold constricts blood vessels and closes pores, producing a toning effect. You can simply step outside if it is a cold time of the year or gently pat your skin with a cold pack (refrigerated but not frozen) for a few seconds. If you are not using any active products, you can tone after cleansing by wiping your face with a chip of frozen green tea. The cold from the ice helps close your pores; the caffeine and tannins in the tea help tighten skin and reduce puffiness; and green tea polyphenols may provide antioxidant benefits. But don’t overuse the cold – frequent excessive cooling may increase the risk of developing rosacea (stubborn skin redness).”

My conclusions?

I would have to agree with Dr. Irwin and The Beauty Brains, which is, if you love using toners or have oily skin, you can continue to use them. Like I said earlier, I do enjoy the relief from the “tight feeling” I get with using a toner product, but maybe I am using a cleanser that is too harsh for my skintype? In last weeks post, “Beauty Truth = Modern Jackass,” my friend Kate (who is a true beauty guru) swears by toners. She commented in response to my question, “Should you use a skin toner? Is it necessary, or just an extra superfluous step?” that, “I like toners. I’ve recently gotten into them. The extra step of exfoliation had done wonders…I look brighter and glowier and its great since you can’t use a “gritty” exfoliant every day.”

I also have felt that toners must be a fairly inexpensive product to make, because its main ingredients are water and Witch Hazel Extract (Hamamelis Virginiana), and the profit margin must be very high. I would think you could formulate a homemade toner fairly easily. Any ideas?

July 31, 2008 at 8:00 am 7 comments

FGW: Pencil Me In

As we all know, not all eye liner pencils are created equal. They range from the very soft to the very hard and wearability varies greatly. Most of our opinion is based on personal preferences, but there are some things we can all agree on: No poking our eyeballs out with a too hard point, enough colors to give us some choice, and it has to last. Anything else is frosting on the cake.

Readers, meet frosting. Pencil Me in Cosmetics offer a little something extra. I know you’re thinking of the sharpener built into the cap, right? And if you’re anything like me all you could think was “Gimmick”. When I received mine that’s just what I thought. Looking at it you see a pretty basic, no frills pencil. But this offers a little more….

Pencil Me In offers 30 amazing colors, the likes of which you haven’t seen before, including 6 shades of grey and black. There are some really nice colors in the bunch, the few that are exceptionally colorful aren’t over the top, and I know over the top. From Brownie(toasty brown) to Orchid Sparks(containing sparkle) there’s a representative for every color family in matte and frosted formulas. I would LOVE to try the platinum, since Prescriptives had a similar color years ago which they discontinued, and I’ve never quite found a close enough match. Initially I was worried that the firm core would be uncomfortable like some of the inexpensive brands you may have tried. But the color applies soft enough to avoid pulling while leaving a nice precise line. The staying power alone was average, but I did get a longer life from it with the addition of an eye base/primer.

In addition to the unique color offerings:

“Pencil me in” cosmetics has added natural ingredients and blended botanicals like Green Tea Leaf Extract, Pine Bark Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Lecithin, Shea Butter, Cacao Butter, Jojoba Oil, Wheat germ oil, and Safflower seed oil. It also includes Vitamins A (Retinyl Palmitate), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin D and Vitamin E (Tocopherol).

While I’m not sold on the benefits of an anti-oxidant in your eyeliner, I really appreciate that the liners have a non drying effect on your eyelids and don’t feel sticky or heavy. The color is very smooth and even.

And that sharpener in the cap? Well it takes a little getting used to so you don’t get your pencil stuck, and it’s small enough that it can be hard to hold onto, but since your liner needs a cap anyways and it’s always available, even on the run, with a little practice this is a worthwhile addition. Though the real selling point here is the colors!!

As a reminder:

“Pencil me in” is offering a special retail introductory promotion.  Buy 2, Get 1 Free.  Buy 4, get 2 free, and so on.  To take advantage of the promotional offer log onto: and choose the pencil colors that you would like to purchase then proceed to the shopping cart page.  The cost for each pencil is only $6.99.  On the shopping cart page you will see in purple a link for this promotion.  Click on it.  The user name and password for this section is the same word:  Internet.  Choose your free pencils and proceed to check out.

July 30, 2008 at 8:24 am Leave a comment

Roughing it: Giving your skin a break

I just returned from a two day camping trip with the family.  Our campsite is one of the best camping destinations in America, and it is only 20 minutes away from our house!   Little Cottonwood Canyon is full of green vegetation, wildflowers, and wildlife (we even saw a moose).  The lower third of the canyon consists of of smooth steep faces of granite, some up to several hundred feet high.  The Little Cottonwood Creek runs right next to our campsite, and the sounds of the cascading water along with the cool breeze are incredibly relaxing!  

If you want to read about an interesting river rescue that took place while we were there, check out this news story:   Luckily a young boy staying at our campground heard the man’s screams and got help.  This is a picture we took of the LifeFlight helicopter leaving the with the rescued fisherman.  How horrible for him to have his leg pinned all night under a boulder, and that water is so cold!

Right before this trip, I noticed that my skin was giving me some trouble, namely some breakout activity.  I am attributing this breakout to hormones, stress, and using a lot of new skincare in the last few weeks.  My skin can be pretty tempermental, and changing things around isn’t always a good thing.  Because of my self-appointed position of reviewing skincare items, about every three to four weeks, I will try something new.  You always hope that this transition will be smooth, but this isn’t always the case.  I would definitely characterize my skintype as sensitive, meaning, sensitive to breakouts. 

Needless to say, I switched things up a bit, started breaking out, and had this camping trip coming.  I decided it was time to give my skin a break.  A break from anything new, and my makeup routine.  Guess what?  I survived!  Two days using just the basics for my skincare (cleansing, toning, moisturizer), and sunscreen and insect repellent.  Although, I am scratching one bug bite on my leg right now, drats!

This morning, my skin is feeling stable, and on the mend.  I think that giving your skin a breather (on your off moments) is very good beauty advice.  Next time you get an opportunity for a few days away, consider giving your skin a break.  Just don’t forget your sunscreen!

July 29, 2008 at 9:27 am 6 comments

The Other Purples: Urban Decay, Make Up Forever, Laura Mercier, Pencil Me In

I just received a great comment from Liv about Urban Decay’s 24/7 glide-on pencils and my favorite color

I love these pencils too!  I also have zero and bourbon.  Bourbon makes an awesome smoky eye when done with gold and dark brown shadow, blends like a dream with out making a mess like my stila kajal pencil does. My boyfriend loved it and he rarely coments on my makeup.  I also bought 1999 but I returned it because it barely showed up.  It looked like yesterdays eyeshadow.  I’m curious about the other purples though.

Other purples?  Oh yeah.  I have a few suggestions for you.

  1. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencils in Rockstar or Lust.  I love to layer these with Yeyo (metallic white), or Gunmetal. ($16)
  2. Urban Decay’s Liquid Liner in CRASH (purple with silver glitter)

Urban Decay is offering a new gift with purchase.  From now until July 30th 2008, place any order over $25 and receive a free Glitter Eye Gel (valued at $18).  Add the Glitter Eye Gel to your cart and then use the coupon code HEAVY at checkout. (thanks for the reminder Bionic Beauty)!

  1. Make Up Forever’s Aqua Eyes:  In Purple and Black Purple ($16)
  2. Laura Mercier’s limited edition Liquid Liner in Bordeaux (burgundy with burgundy brilliance, $22)
  3. Laura Mercier’s Eye Liner in Bleu Marine, deep blue. ($20)  Okay, okay, I know this isn’t technically “purple,” just trust me with a flat eyeliner brush this liner is gorgeous with any eye color.
  4. Pencil Me In! Eyeliners in Amethyst, Boysenberry, or Purple Passion Mo still needs to give these liners the thumbs up, but what a gorgeous color selection and for only $6.99!   Read on.

“Pencil me in” is offering a special retail introductory promotion.  Buy 2, Get 1 Free.  Buy 4, get 2 free, and so on.  To take advantage of the promotional offer log onto: and choose the pencil colors that you would like to purchase then proceed to the shopping cart page.  The cost for each pencil is only $6.99.  On the shopping cart page you will see in purple a link for this promotion.  Click on it.  The user name and password for this section is the same word:  Internet.  Choose your free pencils and proceed to check out. 

It was like they knew we needed a purple fix or something!  Please feel free to comment on some of your favorite other purples.


July 27, 2008 at 1:22 pm 3 comments

Beauty Truth = Modern Jackass

Modern Jackass?   According to Nancy Updike, a contributing editor for the NPR radio program “This American Life,” to be a Modern Jackass is to “talk expertly about something we don’t actually know anything about.”  Modern Jackass is the term they created to describe an imaginary magazine devoted to such blathering.

Have you noticed this epidemic?  I certainly have.  We gather bits of information from magazines, the Internet, infomercials and blogs, and suddenly we believe we are an authority on the subject.  There is so much information to sort through, and how do we ever come to some form of truth or authority on any given subject?  and particularly relevant to this site, the subject of beauty.

I find the amount of contradictions in the beauty world staggering.  I read and try to compile and process a monumental amount of ever changing, new and improved material.    And at the end of the day, I could possibly be the beauty editor for the next edition of “Modern Jackass.”  While brainstorming, here are some of my first ideas for columns.

  • Should you use a skin toner? Is it necessary, or just an extra superfluous step? (The word superfluous is itself superfluous!)
  • Is it okay to use your fingers to apply cosmetics?
  • Bad versus good silicones, or no silicones at all?
  • Antioxidants: they are good for you when eaten but are they good to put them on your face?
  • How does a great big peptide molecule get absorbed into my itty-bitty skin cells?
  • Should I use tap water on my skin, or no water, or only purified non-chlorinated water?
  • Does Botox get absorbed into our bodies and even scarier, our brainstem?
  • Why did Courtney Love mess with her perfect lips?
  • Which Foundation?  Liquid, cream, power, matte, semi-matte, dewy, loose mineral, liquid mineral, liquid to powder, powder to liquid, tinted moisturizer, mousse, spray on, oil-based, oil-free, what did I miss?
  • Skincare creams:  In what order do you apply them?

If you have any real scientific information to answer any of these questions, feel free to comment.  Yes, I will even welcome any Modern Jackass speculation.  Don’t get defensive, just be honest, we are all doing the best we can with our experience, research, personal preferences and our hope to appear 21 again.  I would settle for 31.

July 24, 2008 at 10:02 pm 12 comments

40% at tarte, 4 days only!

Starting today, tarte is offering a 40% off Friends and Family discount through Sunday, July 27th.  This is a great opportunity to try or stock up on some fantastic tarte cosmetics. 

My suggestions? 

Looking for a new foundation/ tinted moisturizer?   I highly recommend trying tarte’s smooth operator foundation with SPF 20.  This is my absolute favorite… lightweight, protective foundation smoothes and perfects the skin with potent a SPF 20 sunscreen, vitamins and natural extracts.  My skin looks natural – never cakey – always gorgeous.

Need some gorgeous sheer color on the apples of your cheeks?  Try any shade of tarte’s cheek stains and you cannot go wrong.

And finally, for you women that are mascara junkies, tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes!  is a rich, powerful formula, that will really rev up your lashes.

Another tip, don’t hesitate.  At this discount, supplies are limited, and the best sellers will be out of stock very quickly (as we discovered with the Cosmedicine deal).

 Code:  FF08     VALID:  July 24, 2008 – July 27, 2008

July 24, 2008 at 9:23 am 6 comments

FGW: Mo’s Mentions

My summer finds, from the frugal to the fantastic

I stopped by the MAC counter recently for a fresh concealer and I just HAD to look at the new goodies. I’m actually pretty good at saying no, but the new Mineralize Blush beckoned and conned its way right into my little hands. Baked minerals (I’m seeing a new trend) have a touch of very fine pearlescent shimmer. The coverage is perfect and buildable, with smooth and even color distribution that makes it a pleasure to put on. I have been thoroughly impressed with the staying power too. Check out the color I purchased, Gentle, a raspberry tone with gold pearlescence. I think it’s a nice neutral color for all skin tones, but it brings an unexpected  hint of pink, leaving you looking happy and fresh. ($21) An added note: The counter rep told me about the “Back to MAC” program: By returning six MAC primary packaging containers to a MAC counter or MAC Cosmetics Online, you receive a free MAC Lipstick of your choice as our thanks to you. I think she said it was different if you went to an actual MAC store, but I can’t recall. Guess I’ll have to save my packaging and go find out. 😉

Summer has arrived, and with it, the heat. I need a little extra help keeping everything in place through the day and I decide to try one of these mineral “finishing veils” that are everywhere lately. On a whim I picked up Maybelline’s Mineral Power translucent loose powder. Hey, it was on special at the superstore. It was packaged with a forgettable blush in a too bright color, but I found the powder to be a true translucent that blended right into my skin. It was very light and didn’t leave me feeling like a breaded chicken breast. No preservatives, no talc, no fragrance, no oil…right up my alley. A good, basic, lightweight, setting powder that’s easy on the wallet. This is my last step before leaving the house, but I’m sticking with my De-Slick for touch ups during the day.

Also from your local drugstore aisles is Cover Girl’s Lash Blast mascara. I will make a silly confession here and admit that I initially bought it because I love Drew Barrymore and she’s the spokesperson. BUT, since I don’t have a mascara I can’t live without (at least one in my price range) I figured it really couldn’t hurt to try it. I needed mascara anyways, right? Yeehaw, I’ve hit the motherload! I am in love with this mascara. You can use the shockingly fat brush to build and build with no worries about clumping. It really does fill in my sparse lashes quite admirably and it rinses away easily. I have had a bit of smudging at the end of the day, and the tube is really big, but overall this will be my new go to mascara unless someone can find me something better in the same price range. Long, full, fantastic.

For a fun summery eye, try Cargo’s Liquid Shadow Collection ($25). Eye shadow gel in six shimmery shades that go on with ridiculously gorgeous coverage. The staying power is pretty darn good, though it does start to fade and crease after I’ve been running and playing in the sweltering heat. You can even blend these colors, but let them set a bit before you do it or you’ll just wipe them right off.  The moss green with a kicky little outfit and heavy lashes for a night out? Show stopping. And the seashell pink with a touch of mascara and some lip gloss is perfect for sunny summer days.

July 22, 2008 at 11:50 pm 1 comment

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